by Hamid Naficy, Tehran Bureau
When A Separation became the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award, more people gained awareness of the country's rich film legacy. Hamid Naficy, a leading authority on Middle Eastern cinema, lists a selection of his favorite Iranian films.
The House is Black (1961), directed by Forugh Farrokhzad
The Cow (1969), directed by Dariush Mehrjui
This is a fiction film about a villager who owns a pregnant cow, the sole source of milk for the village, to whom he is very close. One day when he is town his cow disappears and his wife and other village elders decide to hide that fact from him, claiming that she had simply ran away. The villager does not believe this, but he is so traumatized by the loss of the cow that he gradually becomes the cow, assuming his identity, sleeping in the cowshed. The film helped bring about the new wave movement, which put Iranian cinema on the map of the world cinema. Based on a short story by a prominent writer and psychiatrist, Gholamhosain Saedi, and adapted for the screen by the UCLA trained director, the film inaugurated the theme of the return to authentic Iranian roots in the face of ersatz westernization then in vogue. However, it was also filled with the fear and anxieties of a modernizing nation under authoritarian rule -- inaugurating another important theme of art cinema. It was banned for several years but after its triumph at the Venice film festival it was eventually released to great acclaim.
Close-up (1989), directed by Abbas Kiarostami
The May Lady (1997), directed by Rakhshan Banietemad
Kandahar (2001), directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
This article is courtesy of Your Middle East. Hamid Naficy is Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University, where he also has an appointment with the Department of Art History. He is a leading authority in cultural studies of diaspora, exile, and postcolonial cinemas and media and of Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas. Naficy has published extensively on these and allied topics. His English language books are: "An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking"; "Home, Exile, Homeland: Film, Media, and the Politics of Place"; "The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles"; "Otherness and the Media: the Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged" (co-edited); and "Iran Media Index". His latest work is the four-volume book "A Social History of Iranian Cinema".
Via Tehran Bureau